After two difficult years, Pandora Jewelry refocuses its in-store experience to overcome consecutive years of declining sales in the United States
In 2017, the company lost 27% of its market value, followed by another 61% in 2018. Sales fell 12% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2019. As part of a broader comeback plan, Pandora opens its first US-focused experience-concept store Thursday, at Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey. The US store follows the direction of Pandora stores opened earlier this year in the UK and China, and more US stores are expected to adopt the store model.
Inside stores, Pandora is working to encourage customer discovery, rather than overwhelming them with salespeople at every counter, which the brand has relied on in the past. A key area for discovery is a new charm bar, where customers can discover the stories behind specific charms, from those in a new Disney collection to those in its Zodiac range. Stores will also have a section dedicated to what’s trending and popular, based on data collected from the e-commerce site, and an engraving station.
Other jewelry companies, like Kendra Scott, have taken similar approaches to in-store experience to drive sales. Kendra Scott hosts more than 10,000 events annually across its more than 80 stores, which also house the customizable “Color Bar” where shoppers can design their own pieces.
Pandora plans to use Black Friday and the holiday season to test the store’s success in the United States, but already plans to open “a handful” of those stores in existing US locations across the country in 2020, a said Charisse Hughes, CMO of Pandora Americas. From there through 2021, the brand plans to ramp up those openings, but declined to share details on location and quantity. The company has more than 2,700 stores worldwide, including more than 380 in the United States, which is the company’s largest market.
“We went through a very difficult period in 2017 and 2018. We started to see a decline, and what we realized was that we hadn’t paid enough attention to our main consumer. We didn’t we haven’t brought as much innovation to the consumer,” said Hughes.
For many retailers, launching in-store experiences has been a key strategy to attract more customers to brick-and-mortar retail. Nordstrom’s first store in New York, for example, offers in-store shoppers 110 beauty services, such as LED facials, eyelash treatments and rashes. For Pandora, engravings will be a key way to bring shoppers to the store.
“The personalization aspect of their business model is the greatest strength. It allows consumers to create something unique and personal, which has become a big driver in the jewelry industry,” said Beth Goldstein, accessories and footwear analyst at The NPD Group.
Charms will be another important focus, as they are a major revenue driver for the business. In 2018 and 2017, the charms category accounted for the bulk of Pandora’s revenue, surpassing other categories including necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings. In 2018, the charms brought in around $1.8 million in revenue for the company.
Although this is Pandora’s first “Expressions” concept store in the United States, the company opened a pop-up to test the concept in the Turnstyle Underground Market at Columbus Circle in New York City on October 2. Pandora launched engraving for the American market there. , as well as its new charm bar, with the aim of finding out how consumers will find their way there and how interested they are in engraving.
“It gave us a hint that burning will be a huge hit for us, especially as we approach the holiday season,” Hughes said.
Going forward, as Pandora seeks to open more of these stores, Goldstein said the company will need to pay close attention to whether or not customers find value in these experiences.
“Pandora will need to continuously monitor how consumers interact with their store and then evolve accordingly. If the experience isn’t on-brand, or if it’s not executed well, or if sellers aren’t properly trained, or if the checkout process isn’t smooth, further updates won’t matter,” Goldstein said.